Over the last few days I have been thinking much about Calvin’s legacy: so much theological brilliance and so much to thank God for…but we who embrace his soteriological legacy also must ask forgiveness from our Anabaptist brothers. And why? Simply because of his advocacy of the sword as a curb on heresy, esp. his support of the repression of Anabaptism in both its heretical and orthodox forms. Reading Eamon Duffy’s recent revisionist history of the reign of Bloody Mary (Fires of Faith)—which I bought in Cork, S. Ireland when there a few weeks ago—has convinced me that some of my Protestant and Calvinist forebears erred greatly when they were willing to use the sword to repress error. Like our 18th c. forebears who were slave owners, they are flawed models. In so far as they followed Christ soteriologically they are safe guides. But with regard to the use of the state to repress error, we need to understand their views of church & state as an outcropping of the medieval Constantinian model.
The bottom line is still this: I am sorry that some of my Calvinist forebears ever used the sword against their—and my—Anabaptist brothers.